Takes and trash talk from both ALL sides of the NHL's most obscure PATHETIC* rivalry

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Monday, July 31, 2006

Pacific Division: The Circle of Life

Want to know how the shootout distorts statistics? Consider that no team in the Pacific had a sub-.500 divisional record last year.

Pacific divisional record only:

















San Jose














Los Angeles







Of course, what this neglects is the real story.

  • The Ducks dominated the Coyotes, with a record of 7-0-1.
  • The Coyotes owned the Sharks, with a record of 6-1-1.
  • The Sharks commanded the Kings, with a record of 6-2-0.
  • The Kings dismantled the Stars, with a record of 6-2-0.
  • The Stars muscled the Ducks, with a record of 6-1-1.

Ain't it cool how karma comes around?

Sunday, July 30, 2006

My Masterson Trophy Nominee

Persistence, Sportsmanship, and Dedication to Hockey

Gotta give it up to Alanah at VCOE, whose 49 posts in 24 hours surprisingly didn't end in tears or blood. I'd like to blog for children, except I haven't fathered any yet.

Here was my corny contribution:

Friday, July 28, 2006


Fellow blogites, walk your children away from your monitors...and prepare to feel your skin crawl.

Props to James Mirtle, as per typical, for bringing attention to this disturbing development in jerseydom.

Earl and the Mighty Ducks must feel extra bailed out and even more comfortable with their bland jerseys. I think Sabres fans would take bland with open arms at this point. (Then again, they might take a pistol whipping at this point). I mean...with the Brett Hull Non-Goal, The Music City Miracle and Wide Right, haven't buffloans (scientific term) suffered enough?

Seeing jerseys like these, I cannot help but ask: who are these jerseys for? Seriously, that isn't a buffalo or a "sabre" or any large scary beast. It looks more like a horned guinea pig than anything else.

In honor of the "buffaslug," I proudly present the Atrocious Hockey Jersey Hall of Shame.

It might not be quite as bad as the other jerseys on this list, but few jerseys anger me quite as much as the Mustard Bear. Seriously, they take one of the ten best jersey designs in hockey...and rape it with an absolute eyesore of a jersey.

And I freakin' love bears. Maybe not "Grizzly Man"-love bears, but you know. It still makes me hurt.

What can I say about this jersey that Jes Golbez and ESPN.com's Page 2 haven't already nailed to the wall? This is the NHL's version of "Rowdy" Rod Piper's classic b-movie "They Live."

Somehow, some way, this can all be blamed on Mad Mike Milbury (does mad even need to be in quotes any more? I think not).
Maybe I'm showing my age here...because I'm still half-convinced that these jerseys are one of those jokes that anyone beyond the age of 30 is playing on younger generations. Seriously, did anyone ever wear this? Seriously?

The Kansas City Tuxedos???

Just kidding. Ah, the magic of Google Image searches. The context doesn't help me out much, either.

Photo credit: www.darrenbarefoot.com.

To quote my favorite philosophers: "Heh heh heh heh heh."

Look, I know Texans love eating steak, but seriously...

Feel free to post your own votes, as I'm sure each California team has its own dubious entries. Maybe it's because I really wish I could continuously re-live my childhood, but I've always kind of been a sucker for the Gretzky-era Kings duds.

I mean, especially when it inspires such beautiful art.

In my searches for awful jerseys, I came up an old entry in Red and Black Hockey among others. This has some more obscure and frankly, even more frightening jerseys than I've featured here.

Where will the Sabres' jerseys rank among the lowest of the low? Let's hope for the beleaguered people of Buffalo that will never find out.

(Also, the Nashville Predators deserve an honorable mention for their overall efforts to consistenly awful jerseys).

Bad news for me and the other 2 guys with Vishnevski jerseys

After the arbiter awarded Vitaly Vishnevski a 1-year, $1.55 M deal (actually better than I'd feared), TSN reports that the Ducks are considering two options:

"Sources tell TSN that the Ducks are actively trying to trade him. If there are no takers, Anaheim may walk away from the award."

This is Anaheim's only arbitration case, so 'walking away' needs to happen within the next 48 hours or so.

As a Vish fan, the infuriating thing about this news is that it really does make 'GM sense', considering the salary and on-ice structure the Ducks have projected.

You see, the reason why Scott Niedermayer or Chris Pronger can afford to make a combined $13M is not so much in their own ability to play defense, but the fact that they can be paired with a minimum-wage rookie, a la Francois Beauchemin, still locked into a $500k contract. Paying a top pair $7.25M isn't bad, or a top four cost of $14M is workable also (considering the cheapness of young forwards). You don't want to pay a player more than minimum because essentially, you don't need to pay a player more. You've got baby-sitters.

As a GM, it makes sense. As a Vish fan, it kills me.

And that's the downside to 'winning' the Pronger deal. A guy I've disliked most of his career comes in to supplant the guy I've rooted for all his career.
On a separate note, it looks like the Ducks are going to clean up on their jersey sales, that is if you had a jersey for Selanne, Penner, Perry, Getzlaf, Chistov (all changed numbers), Lupul, Salei, or Vishnevski; they are no longer current.

Last year (lockout included) the list includes jerseys for Rucchin, Leclerc, Fedorov, Sykora, Ozolinsh, Carney, Prospal, Havelid, and Sauer.

Pretty much everyone in Anaheim needs a new jersey, and by the way, we got new colors, too.

Just in case you were a Giguere fan.
On a last, stupid note. I hate calling it our 'new jersey', even though that's exactly what it is.

That's like Edmonton fans getting a 'carolina' or Calgary fans getting a 'tampa bay'.

Can't we find a name for this thing that isn't so G7 painful?

Blog shoutouts

  • Is anyone out there reading LCS Hockey? I must admit, I don’t know much about the background or the current situation of the site, but Michael Menser Dell is one of the best and most amusing reads out there. It’s not a blog, per se (you can’t comment), but if it were, I’d put a comment on every post. I love reading through the archives, also.
  • I would be horribly remiss if I didn’t put whatever support I get these days to Alanah at Vancouver Canucks Op Ed, who is crazy enough to work a 24-hour blogathon for children tomorrow. Something like a post every half hour for 24 hours (no pre-written material), wow! Make sure to give her some support tomorrow by visiting and possibly contributing.
  • Zanstorm and Hodge have started up a Waiting for Stanley blog that has a lot of good reads, loosely focused around the not-every-year rivalry of the Canucks and Maple Leafs. They’ve already exceeded my blog-skills, but they had the whole playoffs to work out the kinks.
  • And if you’re ever in the mood for some cap talk or hockey pessimism, see if you can wake up Tom Benjamin from his on-again, off-again blognap. He might be the most valuable voice out there, keeping us hockey-starved chumps from getting caught up in the NHL’s marketing machine.
I’m leaving a bunch of sites out in the cold (for now), but I keep the blogroll on the left pretty updated with my most-read sites; make sure to check the other deserving blogslaves from time to time. And if you’ve got a favorite read (or a site you’re starting to promote), throw it in the comments section. I’m always up for some more wasted time at work.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Data Exploration: Goals and Shots

Enough with the poetry already! Time to dig in some numbers!

Inspired and enabled by mc79hockey and his data-grabbing wizardry, I decided to get a bit nerdy and start playing with NHL.com official stats. Specifically, I took a look at Anaheim's regular season and their shots-on-goal. (I pulled empty-net goals, because I think the point I want to make about this is really about goalies and not about empty nets.)

First off, here are these Duck goals sliced by shot type, as tracked by NHL.com. I don’t know why the Ducks didn’t score any (or try many) wrap-around goals, but I can’t think of an incident off-hand to say that this data is wrong.

Shot TypeGoalsShotsPercentage





























As you'll note, tip-ins are remarkably efficient. Lesson 1: shot type matters.

Next comes distance, as measured in feet. Andy Grabia at BoA has noted in a rather long post that this distance is measured from the back boards, not the goal line. Whatever, the point is that it is measured.
Distance (feet)GoalsShotsPercentage

0 - 12




13 - 24




25 - 36




37 - 48




49 - 60




61 +








The findings feel right; closer shots are more efficient. Lesson 2: shot distance matters.

I didn’t bother separating 5-0n-3 or 4-on-4 or any other such useful nonsense, but here’s the layman’s take on man-advantages.

















Lesson 3: man-advantage situation matters.

Measuring time elapsed is trickier, and certainly has kinks. This 'rebound' tracker really just tracks the time elapsed (a) from the start of the period, or (b) from the last shot taken. I also failed to do some useful stuff like think about stoppages in play, but the point really is about rebounds.
Time Since Last ShotGoalsShotsPercentage

within 3 seconds




within 30 seconds




within 60 seconds




more than 1 minute








Wowzers! Lesson 4: time elapsed between shots matters.

And for sure, it’s separable by shooter, of which here’s a glimpse:

Teemu Selanne




Andy McDonald




Other Forwards




Scott Niedermayer




Francois Beauchemin




Other Defensemen








Lesson 5: shooter (and player position) matter.

This last one took me a little while, as I still depend on some manual-ish data manipulation, but I tracked what the score was at the time of each shot.
Anaheim MarginGoalsShotsPercentage

Down by 2 or more




Down by 1




Tie Game




Up by 1




Up by 2 or more








Lesson 6: Margin seems not to matter. (though it might when combined with other variables)

So my point is really not about shots, but about saves and save quality. A Selanne power play tip-in is not the same as a Vishnevski short-handed wrap-around, and a good system to really measure goalies and their save percentages should include probably all six of these factors.

“But Sleek! All you’ve done is show me singular cuts of one team’s data. Isn’t there some correlation going on here, and wouldn’t it be more statistically relevant to run this for 30 teams?”

Yeah, yeah, those are future posts, when I can kind of work out the kinks in my dinosaurish data skills. But I’m getting it going, boys.

Maybe you’re looking at a future Islanders G.M.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Sleek's Poetry Corner

(Author’s note: I am no real poet, but I’ve probably been too analytical lately, and my imaginary therapist says this might help.)


Fedorov joined us in 2003’s summer
Replacing Kariya, who left (what a bummer!)
After the rollback, he was still overpaid,
Now that his skills were starting to fade.
Carlyle and Burke had seen quite enough
Off to Columbus for prospects and such!
I’ll admit; I was skeptical about the whole deal
Silly me! How could I miss such a steal?

Before you arrived, I never knew who you were,
Even now that you’ve been with us, I’m not really sure,
Alas! It’s not always easy to see what you bring for us,
Usually ‘cause your partner has been Mr. Norris.
Captain Iginla found out your fists are an asset,
Hitting is also! Just ask Andrew Brunette.
Even though we lost to the Oil (boo hoo!)
Mainly the question has been “Sergei WHO?”
I speak for all Duck fans—we’re glad that you’re here,
Now can you be even better next year?
Go get 'em, Frenchy.

Who is Nils Ekman?

Apparently, Penguins fans have no idea what they're getting with Nils Ekman. Here's some of the comments from the TSN message board.

Good trade for the pens, not too often you can pick up a 50-60 pt forward thats one of the top defensive forwards in the league.

NICE!!!! I hope he is the grit on the Crosby line. Only because I have him and Crosby in a keeper pool. Great defensive player though.

Great pickup for the pens.. this guy could score 30 on sid's line as well as play a key role defensively.
If you watched the Sharks last season, you'd have noticed that Ekman's PK time started at a reasonable rate (mainly because he was playing well with Alyn McCauley) to nearly disappearing completely. Sorry Pens fans, Mr. Ekman may be nice to fans and may have no eyebrows, but he certainly isn't a Selke candidate. Nor is he a gritty player, though he manages to throw about one hit every 15 games or so.

With Ekman, you'll get:

-Good hands, good speed
-A lot of offsides
-90% float/10% grit
-No eyebrows
-Nice to fans

Remember, he got 50some points playing with Joe Thornton for most of the season. If he was so "gritty" and "defensive", Ron Wilson wouldn't have experimented with crap players Grant Stevenson, Patrick Rissmiller, and other AHL-4-Life club members on the Thornton line.

Ekman will chip in points playing with Crosby, but read up on the car before you drive it off the lot.

OK, NHL, I’ll help you make some money

Well well, Mr. Bettman. Look around, your precious teams are spending to the cap. Your arbiters, bound by laws that make no sense, keep printing currency. And lesser-star players are signing long, salary-binding deals.

It seems to me that the NHL needs to find some new revenue pretty soon, and while they are at it, find a way to sweeten that TV deal (no offense OLN, but I keep getting let down by the show “Ducks Unlimited TV”). A boost in league revenue would cause the salary cap to go up, enabling pricy contracts to ‘make sense’, and all us blog-critics could just swallow our gum for once.

Well, fear not, Mr. B! I’ve thought of a way to do it all, and it has nothing to do with alienating a fanbase by changing names and uniforms, or by changing a dozen on-ice rules to confuse the essence of the game.

My answer: Sell NHL TV footage, digitally. You know, a database of televised historic NHL games that I could browse through and purchase. I could make a list of my favorite games individually, or maybe make a huge damn DVD set of Anaheim’s 2003 postseason through Game Six. Or I could pay a bunch of money to create my own custom DVD, something like ‘Earl Sleek’s 100 favorite goals (from the blueline in), 1995 – 1999’.

Hockey fans all have their favorite moments that they wouldn’t mind re-living. Or maybe they’d like to watch games that they never got to see. Bettman, you always brag about us passionate computer-savvy fans, who’s not going to say that this couldn’t make a bunch of money?

Yeah, yeah, you gotta share that money with ESPN, or whoever owns whatever share of the footage. But maybe in creating and splitting this revenue, you kind of remind networks the value that can exist in televised hockey. It might put a little pressure on you to compete with nostalgia, but really, why can’t the on-ice product be just as good as it used to be?

The only critical thing, though, is whatever money this video-venture brings in better (a) get split well among 30 teams, and (b) count towards the next year’s salary cap calculation.

Otherwise some of your teams (or more probably, your fans) are really gonna be screwed. And despite evidence to the contrary (record attendance this post-lockout year), hockey fans really don’t like to be screwed.

On the bright side, though, fans of lousy teams are likely to spend more in the ‘Nostalgia’ section of this video footage database.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A note to Vishnevski’s arbiter(s)

Dear Sir(s) and/or Madam(s)

I realize the public eye has been heavy on your decisions lately. Many have vocalized complaints about high-dollar rulings on Mike York, Daniel Briere, and Scott Gomez.

Well, just when you needed some relief, you got it in tomorrow's itinerary.

May I present Vitaly Vishnevski.

(It’s all right, we can talk about him, as his English remains somewhat broken.)

Vish-dog, as some like to call him, scored a measly eight points this year over 82 games, this in the offense-friendly NHL. His one and only goal came when a distracted St. Louis Blue flung the puck all the way back into his own vacant net.

Now Vish’s lawyers may argue that his value isn’t scoring, and that he finished 8th in the league in recorded hits. But really, should that count as much as, say, scoring a goal past an actual netminder?

I think you could find it in your money-crazy hearts to give this guy the kind of small dollar contract that keeps him in Anaheim for a long time.

You know, and take the heat off a bit from all the talk of big-buck awards. Ya with me?


A concerned fan
(who happens to own a Vishnevski jersey)

(Burke: you trade Pahlsson or Vishnevski, and part of me will kill part of you. Just sayin'.)

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Friday, July 21, 2006

The Jersey Curse Continues

I am a firm believer in the curse of the jersey. I've documented here before about some of my own personal examples of the jersey curse kicking in. No jersey curse, however, has reached as deep as the one that affected Nils Ekman. You see, one of my friends decided to get an Ekman jersey after a pretty darn good 2003-2004 campaign, and that decision seemed reasonable at the time. However, this season it became evident that the jersey curse was hampering Nils down. Even after he got elevated to the Thornton/Cheechoo line, Ekman was still inconsistent to a frustrating level, and he never, ever learned to stay onside.

Ekman's got pretty good hands, and when he wants to, he can be a pretty good two-way player. Back in 03-04, he killed penalties on a regular basis.

So what happened? How did Nils Ekman lose his mojo? Simple -- my friend got his jersey and cursed him. Perhaps the curse was doubly strong because my friend had never owned a jersey of any kind before, let alone one with a name on it.

Earlier this season, Ekman had commented how he didn't want to get traded because he liked the Bay Area and he had just had a baby daughter. Well Nils, hope they sell Swedish food in Pittsburgh, because you've just been shipped out for a second rounder. Considering what Mike Johnson and Richard Zednick went for, Ekman's asking price was surprisingly high (a goalie prospect was thrown in, but he was way down in the Sharks' depth charts).

Is it a blessing or a curse? Ekman goes from what many consider to be a Stanley Cup contender to a bottom feeder. However, he's one of the NHL-proven talents on the Penguins roster. Does that mean he gets to play left wing with Sidney Crosby? If so, that's not too bad of a move -- going from Joe Thornton to Sidney Crosby as your center.

The one cool thing I liked about Nils is that, besides the fact that he had no eyebrows, he always seemed to be a genuinely nice fellow who was always smiling. In fact, on the occasion he was named one of the three stars, he'd skate and bow to the crowd a la Andre Agassi. I can't say that Nils will be terribly missed other than by my friend who now has to buy a new jersey, but I wasn't exactly opposed to having a 20-goal scorer on the Sharks third line. Perhaps it's a salary dump, perhaps it's the pre-cursor to another move.

All I can say is that with Vincent Damphousse gone and Nils Ekman gone, all of the Sharks players now have eyebrows.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Optimism about the Ducks' forwards

Alternate title: Sleek learns to use table tags in HTML!

A week ago, I put together a post called “Pessimism about the Ducks’ forwards”, which looked back at the 2003-04 stats for our projected lineup and noted that nobody had scored more NHL goals that year than Teemu Selanne’s paltry 16.

Today I am going to turn a little more optimistic. For this post, I want to look at a particular segment of the Ducks’ past season, the games played after the Olympic Break. In Anaheim’s instance, that includes 25 regular season games and 16 playoff games, for a nice ‘half-season’ 41-game sample.

  1. From the Ducks’ perspective, this is the segment of games most predictive for the coming year. That is, these games mostly took place after the departures of Fedorov, Sykora, Ozolinsh, and Carney, and the promotions of Getzlaf, Perry, and sometimes Penner.
  2. From a sampling perspective, these 41 games actually are a bit tougher than what one might expect in an 82-game regular season. 30 of the 41 games were played against playoff teams, including 15 against top-3 seeds Detroit, Dallas, and Calgary. There were 20 home games and 21 road games in the sample.
  3. This segment was a particularly successful run for the Ducks, having gone 13-6-1 at home and 12-8-1 on the road and outscoring opponents 3.20 - 2.56.

So how'd we do it? Here are the top-dozen leading scorers for the Ducks over those 41 games; note that all except Joffrey Lupul will be back next year:

PlayerGamesG-A-PtsATOIPower PlayWithin 1 Goal

T. Selanne






A. McDonald






R. Getzlaf






S. Niedermayer






C. Kunitz






J. Lupul






F. Beauchemin






T. Marchant






R. Niedermayer






S. Pahlsson






C. Perry






D. Penner






The last two columns describe scoring in two different types of situations. Power Play describes scoring on a man-advantage, whereas Within 1 Goal only captures scoring in situations where the game was either tied or was a 1-goal game.

The first thing to notice (other than the nice layout of the table) is how dominant Teemu Selanne and Andy McDonald were over that stretch, and generally how decently-spread the rest of the scoring was. The point I really want to emphasize, though, is that even with his 4-goal outburst in G3 at Colorado, Joffrey Lupul wasn't a huge piece of point-scoring puzzle during this winning stretch.

That is not to say that Lupul's goal totals won't be missed; the Ducks won't be able to generate points on assists alone. However, there seems to be good evidence that a healthy Corey Perry (who sustained an injury in the playoffs) or a full-time Dustin Penner (who spent much time in the AHL) have the ability to pick up some of that slack, especially since both will be a year older and wiser.

41 games isn't really a lot to base expectations on, but it's not exactly chump change either. Sure, our forwards don't have a lot of pre-lockout success, but there is evidence that this mostly-intact squad (plus a guy named Pronger) can collectively generate the goals (and wins) needed to succeed in the coming year.

Now we just need to figure out who our best goaltender is...

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Loose ends in Duckville

  • Well, per Ben Maller earlier this week, the L.A. Times will be slashing back on its Kings and Ducks coverage, especially on road swings. Not to be too picky, but as a daily subscriber, this would be similar to OLN telling me that it will be cutting down on its Academy Award coverage. As it stands, the LAT usually reserves a spot between horse racing and high school golf for the ‘breaking NHL news’, including tough-to-locate sentence-summaries on Bryzgalov’s big mouth or Wang’s GM experiment.
  • To pick up the slack, the O.C. Register has reported some interesting news on player numbers. According to Randy Youngman, Teemu Selanne will revert back to his familiar #8 next year, just to enhance crappy-jersey sales. Others taking new numbers include Corey Perry (#10), Dustin Penner (#14), Ryan Getzlaf (#15), and Chris Pronger (#25). No word yet on how Stan Chistov and Frenchie Beauchemin plan on splitting #23.
  • Lastly, I found this image from the upcoming NHL 07 on the HF boards, kind of a way to visualize how our new jerseys will look on the ice. I don’t know why Scott Niedermayer is being shown as an ‘assistant captain’, but I do like the fact that everyone in the stands is sticking with the old jersey.
  • [Edit: It appears the Arrowhead Pond is now the Honda Center. No word yet on whether we will be using hybrid ice. Another fabulous change for our wonderful offseason.]

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Kings fire Lombardi, hire Labarbara to GM

(Author's note: The headline is unabashedly false. It is just meant to convey East Coast news into California-friendly terms.)

The NY Islanders re-cemented their role as Dumbest Franchise Ever today by firing GM Neil Smith and replacing him with lottery-ball-winner Garth Snow. Smith had been GM for a total of forty days and failed to make the playoffs even once. Snow, meanwhile, had been posing as some sort of back-up goalie to get a better scouting angle on his future playing roster.

Now it’s pretty evident that Smith was not fired for GM performance, as his offseason seemed passably positive, at least not enough to warrant instant termination. Any GM fired for performance at least has the opportunity to put a team on the ice.

So it’s egos and whatnot, the perfect fan-pleaser. And all this to put together a team that has a page-and-a-half of ‘question marks’ both on the salary ledger and in the lineup.

And think what you will of Garth Snow, hey, he’s a guy who seized the day, better for him. As I noted in an earlier post, though, I don’t know how to judge 'Snowtide' for a while. He’s bound by Milbury’s earlier moves, just like Smith was, plus he now has to deal with Smith’s signings. It’s like he’s playing poker, but he has to pick up someone else’s folded hand.

For one day at least, 29 teams looked like geniuses. For this league, that’s not a bad showing.

[EDIT: Whoa, now Patty LaFontaine is leaving the team also?]

Monday, July 17, 2006

Homogeneous Ducks

One trend about Brian Burke’s Ducks that hasn’t really been discussed (but is becoming quite noticeable) is the Canadazation of our lineup.

Back in our 2003 SCF run, the Ducks played a multinational lineup featuring 11 players from 7 countries outside Canada:

  • Belarus—Salei
  • Czech Rep.—Sykora
  • Latvia—Ozolinsh
  • Russia—Chistov, Vishnevski
  • Sweden—Pahlsson, Kjellberg, Havelid
  • Switzerland—Gerber
  • United States—Carney, Sauer
Compare that with today’s projected lineup, which features 5 players from 3 countries outside Canada:
  • Finland—Selanne
  • Russia—Chistov, Vishnevski, Bryzgalov
  • Sweden—Pahlsson
(This doesn’t really even take into account guys like Fedorov or Prospal, who have joined and left our team since 2003).

Now I’m not sure how much of this new distribution really is part of Burke’s master plan (his Vancouver team had some Swedish flair to it) or just a reflection of who was available, but off the top of my head, will there be another NHL team this year with such a Canada-heavy workforce?

And is there such a thing as being ‘too Canadian’ in this import-rich NHL?

Saturday, July 15, 2006

A Tale of Four Goalies

I think Mr. Bryzgalov doesn't really understand the concept of "Team First":

“I got a call from the club and they told me that they see me as their number one goaltender,” the Russian told Sovietsky Sport newspaper. “They (Anaheim) also want to trade Giguere but no one wants him.”
If Giguere is not moved by opening night, there should be a nice icy freeze to go with the new orange colors in the Anaheim locker room.

On the other hand, even though Vesa Toskala and Evgeni Nabokov don't need to get a room or anything, they have at least a friendly and respectable public relationship.

Vesa Toskala has nothing but great things to say about the San Jose Sharks, his GM Doug Wilson, and his fellow goaltender Evgeni Nabokov.

But he's adamant he doesn't want to head into training camp next season still battling for playing time in goal with his buddy Nabokov.

''I really hope that doesn't happen,'' Toskala said Tuesday from his native Tampere, Finland. ''That's not good for me, or for Nabby. And I don't think it's good for the team either, sitting one of us on the bench. I really hope there's a trade.''

The difference here is that Bryzgalov has essentially forced Brian Burke into a trade to prevent any bad locker room vibes before the season starts, totally destroying any leverage Burke may have had. On the other hand, Toskala's comments put pressure on Doug Wilson to do something, but doesn't promote the sense of locker room-destroying venom that Bryzgalov's comments do.

Assuming nothing's been taken out of context (ha!) and these public statements reflect how Toskala and Bryzgalov feel, don't you think it'll be easier for Doug Wilson's tandem to accept "Look, one of you will move. It might not be till November, but we'll find the best situation for you two and the team. Just be patient." rather than Brian Burke's apparently-at-odds duo?

One more grammar post, also irrelevant to hockey

Warning: this grammar post is lamer than my last one, but here goes.

It seems the common convention for 2006 is to pronounce it as “two thousand six”, as if it were a common number, like a dollar amount or a distance in miles. Probably, this comes from such influences as 2001: A Space Odyssey or Conan O’Brien’s In the Year 2000 sketch.

But really, declaring a year has a different speaking convention, at least it did back when I was a kid in the 1980s. Back then, we didn’t refer to our decade as the “one thousand nine hundred eighties”, but rather simplified things as the “nineteen eighties”. It was a much more efficient pattern for vocalizing a year, and it seemed to be universally recognized. But in the year 2000, for whatever reason, the rules slipped.

Follow the logic with me:

1806: “Eighteen oh six”
1906: “Nineteen oh six”
2006: “Two thousand six”
2106: “Twenty-one oh six”

Can you spot the outlier? It really should have been called “Twenty oh six”, and we are now living in the “twenty hundreds”. That is, if you want to remain proper with the convention that seemed admissible through the last days of 1999.

Now, the natural counterargument is “Well, if everyone has abandoned this rule, why not just go with the flow? Why cause a fuss?”

Well, 2010 is around the corner, and I think people might be favorable to saying “twenty ten” by then. Why not be brazen and be the first guy on your block to revert back to the old way?

Twenty-oh-six”: the way future historians will remember us.

Friday, July 14, 2006

The Battle of the Thorntons

In a move that was so under the radar that it hasn’t been officially declared on Anaheim’s official site, the Ducks have completed the BoC trifecta by signing UFA punching bag Shawn Thornton (story here).

I don’t believe Shawn is blood-related to Joe (SJ) or Scott (LA), and is unlikely to crack the big club (and I’m not even 100% that this news release is true), so for now we’ll just leave the blog title alone.

Anyone in for a Thornton-Thornton trade?

[Edit: now it's official.]

Doug Wilson Drinking Game!

My friend Kyle and I have put together the definitive list of Doug Wilson-isms. Have a drink any time you hear one of these phrases:

-Every day is a trade deadline. (do a shot)

-We believe in our players. (have a beer)

-We tried to sign Scott Niedermayer. (do two shots)

-Owen Nolan has given a lot of blood, sweat, and tears for this franchise. (have a beer)

-I will do anything to make this team better. (have a cocktail)

-It's a good problem to have. (pound a beer)

-We have the best coaching staff in the world. (have a cocktail)

-Matt Carle... (any sort of fawning upon Matt Carle -- have a beer)

-Reward excellence. (have a sip of your favorite drink)

-Makes some comment about filling holes from within. (do three shots)

-After December 1st (Joe Thornton trade), we were one of the best teams/best power plays/most winning teams in the league. (do two shots)

-Veteran leadership is overrated. (do a sake bomb)

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Pessimism about the Ducks' forwards

(Author’s note: as this post deals with NHL development, all statistics cited are a combination of regular season and playoff statistics, all at the NHL level.)

At this point in time, 7 forwards are capable of making our top 2 projected lines. 6 of them, however, have a year or less of NHL success to really hang your hat on (and some you really have to stretch your definition of 'success' or possibly, wear a very small hat):Last year's numbers are promising, but before that? Yikes!

And how 'bout Teemu, Burke’s only UFA signing at the NHL level? Well, let’s just say that his Masterson year came out of the blue. The graph below shows how his G/Gm and Pts/Gm projected before his ketchup exploded.Bottom line: Teemu was the only current Duck forward to hit (exactly) 35 points in 2003-04, including the playoffs. We are either going to be the model for cheap (unproven) offense in the new-era NHL or the answer to the question, “What’s the worst thing you can do with two Norris Trophies on your blueline and a Conn Smythe in net?”

This is really just a set-up post. Later I will give you some reasons to be optimistic about our ragtag assortment of possible scorers, and this time it will have nothing to do with Disney!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Why don't we pencil you in, then?

The NHL schedule was released today for the upcoming year. Here will be the key matchups (including preseason) for the Battle of California:
Also of note, the Pacific division will be traveling to the Southeast division / hosting the Atlantic division during interconference play.

Selanne Sinks His Boat

Credit HF posters Pepper and Color@do @v@l@nche for their diligent reporting.

Unfortunately, the only web sites linked are in Finnish, and the only real things known are:

  • Selanne was not aboard
  • The friend he lent the boat to may not have been properly licensed
  • The boat was over capacity (23 passengers in a 15-passenger-craft)
  • The boat is ruined
Burning question: will this make Teemu more driven to earn his incentive bonuses?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Happy Birthday Earl Sleek

I’m not really one for numerology, but is there a real significance being born on 7/11/77? I mean, it seems like a weird enough date, with its inherent rhyme scheme and its multiplicative soundness. And the numbers all seem lucky enough. Am I the anti-anti-antiChrist?

Here's wishing all of us (especially the Battle of California) a fabulous NHL year!

(Author's note: cartoon re-used because I'm drunk).

Monday, July 10, 2006

Ominous quote of doom!

Boy, that Doug Wilson sure is optimistic, isn't he?

"(Chicago) got good players, but we’re fortunate that we have players that can fill roles. We’ve got a lot of depth in our defensive end."

Let's examine that depth, shall we?

Kyle McLaren: Good, steady, stay-at-home guy who hits like a mofo. Holds on to the puck WAY too long when he gets it and always gets his shot blocked. Has a really heavy shot but can't get it on net. Good #2/#3 guy.

Scott Hannan: Great at shutting down the opposition and has adjusted to play the non-clutch-and-grab style of play. Decent skater, but not great with the puck. Can't make a good outlet pass and can be prone to turnovers. Good #2/#3 guy.

Matt Carle: Doug Wilson's favorite person on the planet. Won the Hobey Baker award, smooth skater, good passer. Could use a little more meat on his bones, but has nowhere to go but up. Potential to be a #1/#2 defenseman, but right now he's a #4/#5.

Christian Ehrhoff: About halfway through the season, Ehrhoff finally figured it out and played terrifically down the stretch. He's still prone to bad turnovers and soft plays but skates like the wind and has a ridiculously good shot. There was a stretch right after the Olympics where he looked like the second coming of Brian Leetch. He won't ever be mistaken for Scott Stevens because of his defensive shortcomings, but he's getting better. Potential to be a #1/#2 defenseman, but right now he's a #3/#4.

Doug Murray: Big and built like a freight train, Murray hit a lot of people in a very short amount of time. That was cool. Then he got injured and we never saw him again. Potential to be a #3/#4 guy. Right now, who knows?

Josh Gorges: You know when you push a shopping cart around the grocery store? That's how the Edmonton forwards pushed Josh Gorges around. He's defensively sound, but still lacks bite. He's a #6 guy and he'll probably stay there if he even stays in the NHL.

The rest o' the crew...

Rob Davison: Rob Davison...not that good. That's all I have to say. I'm sure he's a nice guy though.

Jim Fahey: Jim Fahey...really not that good, which is weird considering how well he did his rookie year. He's probably pretty good at delivering Una Mas burritos from the concessions to Doug Wilson.

Patrick Traverse: Woo hoo, another big name free agent signing! This guy was...a mediocre defenseman...in the AHL. Yeah.

So that's it. You've got two guys with great potential (Ehrhoff/Carle), two steady vets (Hannan/McLaren), one guy who might be a #4 (Murray). The remaining four, well, let's just say that their isn't a large talent gap between them.

That's *cough cough* Doug Wilson's "depth".

By the way, for my take on the OTHER participants in the Bell deal, check out my non-California-centric blog.

Are you a Vishnevski or a Visnovsky?

Take our quiz and find out!

1. You have recently discovered that a co-worker is spreading false rumors about you. Do you:
a. Stick-handle wide and center the puck to a forward?
b. Wait until he has his head down and slam him into the ice?
c. Try to resolve it like adults?

2. Two people both claim ownership of the same twenty-dollar bill. Do you:
a. Push the puck to a cocked-up Rob Blake?
b. Abandon your position to send a message to the opposing team?
c. Make change in order to make peace?

3. A friend comes to you with an "unbelievable" insider stock tip. Do you:
a. Use your speed and puck skills to augment your 5'10" frame?
b. Serve the two-minute penalty, even though you don't understand why you were called?
c. Thank him for the tip, but ultimately refuse to mix business and friendship?

4. You keep finding your day job mundane, and wonder if you should find new employment. Do you:
a. Watch as your Slovakian teammates get repeatedly let go?
b. Cheer as the St. Louis Blues score your only goal of the year into an empty net?
c. Write a blog to make the days go faster?

You can check your answers against the scale (posted in the comments section).

Note that this survey promises to get more complex in the future, with other blueline prospects like James Wisniewski (Chicago), Andy Wozniewski (Toronto), and Ivan Vishnevskiy (Dallas) on their way.

[Edit: I had some writer's block coming up with these questions. Feel free to offer better ones.]

We can rebuild it...bigger...stronger...less defense

In case you haven't heard:

SJ sends Tom Preissing/prospect Josh Hennessey to Chicago for Mark Bell. Chicago packages the two off in another deal that doesn't involve California, so screw them.

My first gut reaction is that I like the deal. It gives the Thornton/Cheechoo line the left wing they really need (anything to stop Nils Ekman from going offside) and adds more size/grit up front. On the other hand, the Sharks have a glut of #3/#4 defensemen and trading away Preissing wasn't really going to hurt them. Preissing had a good year and will probably get another 40-50 points, but the upside on Christian Ehrhoff and Matt Carle is much better.

The problem is that the Sharks are grossly thin on D right now. The pairings will probably look something like this:

Doug Murray/Josh Gorges

Now, Doug Murray's a big dude, but he couldn't work his way back into the lineup after getting injured. Gorges is a capable #6 defensemen, but it sure would be nice to get someone with more NHL experience back there -- plus, someone who doesn't just get pushed over by big dudes.

Up front, the Sharks top two lines should put the fear of Buddha in any team (except for maybe freakin' Anaheim -- I don't think they fear any forwards with Prongomeyer back there):


It's conceivable that all six guys could hit 30 goals next season. In fact, I'd say I'd expect the first line to put up at least 100 goals and the second line to put up at least 90.

Where does this shove Nils Ekman? My guess at lines 3 and 4:


The Sharks are definitely top heavy, but I'd hope that Curtis Brown can thrive in a role where he's not asked to do too much. Grier's a huge dude who can create some space for his two linemates while shutting down the other team and generally causing chaos. Ekman, well, he's quite the enigma, as his speed can often be neutralized by his soft play and/or general stupidity with offsides. Goc may or may not play 3rd line center -- the kid is so piss poor at faceoffs that I'd consider moving him to the wing or something. The Sharks should hire Joel Otto to teach him faceoff skills. Still, there's nowhere to go but up for Goc, and he did play really well in the first half of his rookie season, so here's hoping for him to at least settle into a 3rd line role.

The nice thing about having so much depth on the top two lines is that things can get spread out when they hit a lull. Ekman can always go back up to the top line if Bell can give the 3rd line guys a spark, or perhaps Grier and Michalek can switch up from time to time. Ron Wilson's got a lot of pieces to play around with, and that's a good thing.

My only request right now -- sign Danny Markov to shore up the blueline. Push Gorges out of the line up with Markov's grit, shot, and all-around play. As for the goalie situation, just hang on to both of them until November when some team gets desperate due to injury and overpays.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Well done

After arguably slacking off a bit on the brilliance, The Sports Guy Bill Simmons slams one out of the park with his top 40 trade value column for NBA players.

A great jab at the 'ol Orbs:

19. Vince Carter
Finally taken off the hook in Canada after Chris Pronger's wife forced
the Anaheim trade. (Also taken off the hook: Doug Christie.) I have to say,
it makes me want to puke that he cracked the top 20. No way around it.

I'm a big fan of the Sports Guy, but this is the first time since the Sox won the WS that I think he's really hit a grand slam.

The Sports Guy brings me to a point: thank goodness for the "blogsophere." No offense to Bucci and other mainstream online hockey columnists, but only hockey bloggers seem to report and comment on hockey at a level near Simmons.

In fact, I'm throwing down a gauntlet: I will do a rip-off Top 40 hockey players before the summer's over. Will it expose me for a hockey dunce? Probably. Will it entertain all of you? By god I hope so.

Update: In the interest of self-promotion, but also some good laughs (not to mention the opportunity for the Internet community to make fun of me for my unwashed mugshot), I wrote a column a couple years back that was a 'How To' guide not to be Pussy-Whipped.

Originally, I wrote it for two reasons: [1] to plead with my best friend and roommate to grow a backbone and [2] to make fun of Doug Christie, since he was going to become a Dallas Maverick.

Now I would make it "W.W.P.D.?" (What Would Pronger Do? for you quick-witted types) and it would be more than accurate.

Enjoy...or accuse me of shameless self promotion. Or both.

The Band of California

Since I'm sure there's only so many ways Earl can turn the knife in our backs over the Ducks adding Pronger this offseason, I figured that we can throw in the occasional non-puck related post in here every now and then.

(Just wait until we get into hockey video games, which I guess is kind of puck-related)

So, anyway, in a rare event considering my horrific college-marred budget, I went out and actually bought a compact disc today. It was California's favorite funk metal band's new disc, the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Stadium Arcadium.

This is also a first in another way. For some reason, I've always had an abritary grudge towards the Peppers. For one thing, the band refused to share the stage with another California funk metal band Faith No More. For those of you not "in the know," FNM was fronted by future Mr Bungle, Tomahawk, Peeping Tom, Fantomas, etc. mastermind Mike Patton. I said to myself: How can I make guys richer who cock-blocked the man who wrote the lyrics: "The cat's in the bag/and the bag's in the river"?

I also think that Anthony Kiedis falls under the Sergei Fedorov School of Jealousy, in that he has good looks, lots of money, undeniable skill and mountains of poon. (Just to cover my bases on the skill front, let's say Fedorov already has tenure in the school)

I mean, sure, there were plenty of RHC songs that spoke to my love of outrageous bass rocking. "Under The Bridge" is one of those must-like songs. "Aeroplane" has a video that aligned perfectly with my ascent/descent into puberty. And there were more...I guess maybe it was just the bad pun of "Californication" (even though it was a good song) and the bad accent-ry of "Scar Tissue" that held me back.

Well, after hearing "Dani California" about 1.5 times I knew that album would be in my collection sooner or later. After hearing half of the first disc, I'm ready to put them up there with the Arcade Fire as bands that are allowing me to let go of dredg (another California treat) and other now-regrettable high school faves.

So, Mr. Kiedis, sing about California every album you want. He can sing about manure or the Ducks new jerseys (redundant), and it would still be gold.

Buy it. Download it. Bootleg it. Steal it. (OK, don't steal it. That's bad kids.)

But do yourself a favor and give this bad boy a listen. You will NOT be dissapointed.

Friday, July 07, 2006

A quick grammar post, completely irrelevant to hockey

James Mirtle has referred to his Pronger post (and its comments) as being “horrific”. What a strongly negative word, something akin to saying “horrible to the nth degree”. What is really strange about the English language is that there is a very similar word with a completely reversed meaning: “terrific”, which I guess means “terrible to the nth degree (but so terrible it’s AWESOME)”. I can’t find much different between “horror” and “terror”, “horrible” and “terrible”, but when it comes to “horrific” and “terrific”, wowza! One of my goals over the last year or so has been to use these last two terms more interchangeably, with often-confusing results.

Another puzzler in English is the term “subpar”, which traditionally means less than desired. However, if it has any relation to the game of golf, shouldn’t subpar mean exceptional?

So now, armed with this new understanding, you too can go around confusing everyone, talking about Anaheim’s subpar offseason and its terrific new uniforms. Only you will really know what you are talking about.

Long-term contracts punish the wrong GM

One revelation that I am starting to come around to is the misalignment of incentives between a GM and his franchise. You see, a GM and a franchise are both in the business of winning, except that a GM is more about the ‘short-term’ than the ‘long-term’.

A lot of the extravagant deals we are seeing suggest that a key bargaining chip that a GM can offer a UFA is extra length on a deal. A franchise might not see this as an optimal strategy, as this ties its hands in filling rosters under future (variable) salary caps, but what does a GM really care? By the time a 5-year deal proves unfavorable, the GM who signed it will likely be long gone; the punishment for frivolous long-term spending is likely to be incurred on his replacement, not him. A bad GM gets benefited by acquiring a now-serviceable player while his franchise (down the road) gets screwed with a potentially dead-weight contract.

Deadweight Overcommitment

The real losers in all of this are probably ‘GM replacements’, the yet-to-be-hired guys who have to come in and fix a franchise that has been forced to tread water because of the last guy’s over-commitments. How are we really to judge a new GM when he inherits a predecessor's mistakes, which especially in a cap league can be quite crippling for a couple of years?

This is also somewhat troubling because as bad decisions are being made (but not immediately punished), they are also 'setting the market' for teams that otherwise may have spent more reasonably or committed less towards a future salary cap.

We’ll find out later which specific contracts turned out to be junk (if revenues climb and the cap keeps climbing, maybe none of them), but rest assured that the losers will not be the GMs who signed them, but rather the franchises themselves. All this because the NHL/CBA could not properly align a GM’s short-term vision with a franchise’s long-term one.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

On having more franchise defensemen than you have franchises

A general sentiment on the Ducks’ HF Boards goes something like “Since CP and SN are each capable of playing half the game, Carlyle should split them up and have nearly all of his 60 regulation minutes covered (except maybe in 5-on-3 situations or late in a close game).”

I will admit initially that these were my initial thoughts as well. SN could continue to carry along Frenchie Beauchemin, while CP could adopt-a-Vishnevski and help ensure that some Norris would be along the blueline at nearly all times.

But now, given a few days to debate with my PS2, I’m wondering again. Why exactly is it a bad idea to play the horses together? If we were any one of 29 other teams, common convention would be to take the top 2 blueliners and paste them together to make a ‘#1 tandem’. And we know that CP and SN can do a lot to help their defensive partners, what would happen if they brought out the best in each other?

It’s not like there’s a lot of redundancy in style, either. CP is the slow-but-sturdy traditional defenseman, adding a lot of punch and power with some blueline bombs. SN is the quick-but-everywhere roamer, without a big shot but extremely intelligent on the puck. Team Canada found this to be quite a desirable tandem, and for sure I think we could also.

The only problem being, that’s $13 M being spent on your blueline for half the game, what happens in the other (non-Norris) half? While Beauchemin/Vishnevski/O’Donnell/Dipenta are all NHL-calibre serviceable defensemen, how will their (easier?) minutes fare when left to their own devices?

I think the question of sharing icetime has more than one right answer, by the way. We’re probably in good shape no matter how Carlyle plays the studs; neither CP nor SN has missed the playoffs in more than a decade. Still, I’m not sure that separating the horses should be a foregone conclusion; there is plenty of upside to controlling the 30 most important minutes of a game.

At any rate, that is the #1 question I have going into next season: how much icetime do SN and CP end up sharing? Tell me what you’d do as a coach, and later I’ll tell you all how wrong you all were.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Our Goalie can beat up Your Goalie!!

Waaay back in the days of watching hockey while living in New Jersey, I randomly flipped on a meaningless Rangers-Islanders game. And for some reason, some force compelled me to keep watching.

And I'd like to thank that force for compelling me to do so, as I saw quite possibly the most hysterical beating this side of a Claude Lemieux tortoise act, when a young Dan Cloutier pummeled Tommy Salo into Swiss cheese.

Honestly, I haven't stumbled onto sports history many times since. Sure, there was a Ron Artest melee here and a Jarome Bettis fumble there...but how often do you get to see Salo get absolutely demolished in the waning moments of a regular season game?

That, along with slightly above average goaltending, is what Mr. Cloutier brings to the grand city of Los Angeles. Sure, the Ducks now have 2/4 of the Mount Rushmore of Hockey Defensemen. And sure, the Sharks have the Hart trophy winner.

But c'mon. Do you honestly think that J.S. crying after Game 7 Giguere could throw 'bows with Dan? Vesa Toskala and his limp glove wrist? I don't think so.

So go ahead Sharks and Ducks. Take your "victories" and "irrelevant franchise histories." We'll sit pretty with Cloutier, knowing that we have an enforcer in the net.

(Is it me, or are the Kings becoming The Island of Misfit Netminders? Seriously, first Roman Cechpanic and now Cloutier? Yikes.)

McDonald buys a farm

Well, one of the questions I had going into this offseason was 'What does a guy like Andy McDonald get on the RFA market?' This is a guy who in his first 194 games of his career had totals of 27 - 53 - 80. This year he adds 34 - 51 - 85, good for 20th in the league. (Only 2 playoff goals, though! O'Donnellish!)

Well, he signed today for a Sedin-like number of $3.3 M over the next three years.


We can work with that contract, I think, if Andy's willing to put up the numbers. For one, our entire top line is probably owed some money for their work last season, where they played for a combined $2.1 M (!), so we'll consider some of that 'backpay'. Secondly, the team can save some additional money by having McDonald sleep in one of Pronger's shoes. McDonald, incidentally, was originally acquired as some sort of Kariya-cloning experiment in the mid-90s.

In other news, the Kings picked up Dan Cloutier to help share blame with Mathieu Garon. Randy Carlyle has already started drawing up a center-ice shooting drill.

“We dropped the name ‘Mighty’ so we could STAY ironic” (nickname post)

The real offseason issue for Duck fans will now be to come up with a suitable nickname for the Niedermayer and Pronger collection, remembering that this duo might even put Kariya-Selanne in its historical place. Some have suggested something chintzy like “Prongermayer” or “Project Norris”. I might prefer something enigmatic like “Either ORR” that takes more time to explain than it’s worth.

Meanwhile, poster Varius at HF boards has already requested top-line minutes for Stan Chistov for no other reason than better nicknaming. (Author's note: I’m shameless in my graphic-stealing.)
Feel free to contribute your own nickname suggestions, both from Ducks fans and Duck haters. Best suggestion gets a conditional first-round pick.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Trading the Traitor (aftermath)

Happy Independence Day, suckers! OK, first off, here's the specific trade. In exchange for Chris and Lauren Pronger, the Ducks surrendered a 1st round pick in 2007 and a 2nd round pick in 2008. Per the OC Register, should the Ducks make the Stanley Cup Finals within the next three years (the length of Scott Niedermayer's contract), then the Oil gets another conditional 1st round pick in the following draft.

And of course, RW Joffrey Lupul and D Ladislav Smid.

  • Joffrey Lupul is a Sykora-type, with a wicked shot that has high upside if used properly. He takes some tough hooking-type penalties at inopportune times. He is a pretty bland in-game interview, though he seems upbeat. He should be good for 25+ goals, maybe more if he gets to face Jose Theodore 8 times in a season.
  • I've never seen Smid play, though all indications were that he was going to crack our lineup this year. He made Ruslan Salei expendable, in theory.
Anaheim's resulting lineup:

J. S. Giguere, I. Bryzgalov*
Two serviceable guys here, with the underlying question of "Who is #1?"

S. Niedermayer-F. Beauchemin
C. Pronger-V. Vishnevski*
S. O'Donnell-J. Dipenta
This could go all over the place, as Carlyle has many different possibilities now. What percentage of gametime will involve both SN and CP, I wonder?

C. Kunitz*-A. McDonald*-T. Selanne
T. Fedoruk- R. Getzlaf-C.Perry
D. Penner-T. Marchant-R. Niedermayer
S. Chistov*-S. Pahlsson-T. Moen
Carlyle likes to switch around left-wingers a lot, bringing Fedoruk out on different lines at times to 'give them more size'. Depth at center is very good. Bobby Ryan at this point is an outside possibility, but general consensus is 'too soon'.

* still unsigned

Monday, July 03, 2006

A few extra notes:

  • What should be recognized is that we have one less headache than we did yesterday morning, and that headache is named Joffrey Lupul. Nothing against the person or the player, but specifically trying to hit a good contract amount and length was going to be a real pain. Now we only have four RFA headaches: Andy McDonald, Ilya Bryzgalov, Vitaly Vishnevski, and Chris Kunitz.
  • Don’t get me wrong. I feel horrible for Edmonton fans, who rightfully feel snubbed by their franchise player. Don’t think I haven’t felt similar pain, though. Remember when Paul Kariya decided to take a $1.2 M deal from the Avalanche rather than take $8 - $9 M to stay a Duck? That also occurred soon after a G7 loss, and it felt then like we were giving Colorado another Cup. The only differences, really, are that we didn’t get anything for Kariya and that we still have to pay Pronger a reasonable salary.
  • So now it becomes an internal struggle for good ol’ #44 with Chris “don’t piss me off or I’ll make you trade me tomorrow” Pronger and Rob “hey, my brother’s pretty good too” Niedermayer? Thank goodness we didn’t make out in the Arnott sweepstakes.
  • Randy Carlyle has a tough decision to make also: should he pursue a 6th defenseman or are those minutes likely to be easy enough for him to play them himself? Or should the Ducks pursue some sort of radio contest where a lucky Anaheim fan gets the 6th d-spot?
  • It will feel very weird to be ‘better on paper’ than a lot of teams. I might have to go to sports self-esteem classes to handle writing about a team that is actually expected to be a force on the ice. I've spent my whole career commenting on underdogs, and am woefully ill-prepared for this 'powerhouse' status.